In yet another sign that the road to 2012 leads through Chris Christie, Tim Pawlenty snuck in a meeting with the increasingly influential New Jersey governor last week.
As Politico's Jonathan Martin writes, the former Minnesota governor-turned-2012 hopeful had dinner with Christie at the governor's mansion last Thursday. The meeting comes on the heels of similar sit-downs in recent months with Haley Barbour and Mitt Romney, both of whom are expected to launch bids for the GOP presidential nomination next year.
Christie has actually met with Pawlenty before, as The Ticket reported in January. But as Martin writes, these latest pow wows come as the 2012 hopefuls increase their efforts to woo Christie's support ahead of the 2012 campaign. While none of the hopefuls have formally asked for Christie's endorsement, there's no question it's the ultimate motivation behind the meetings.
A source tells Politico Christie is "closest" to Barbour and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who has yet to call on the New Jersey governor in his capacity as a 2012 hopeful. But a top aide cautions that Christie won't make his decision quickly—if he chooses to make one at all.
"He's going to be deliberate about it,"Mike DuHaime, a Christie adviser, tells Politico."And there's no guarantee that he'll endorse anybody."
(Photo of Pawlenty, Christie and Barbour: David Kohl/AP)